The Shambhala Electronic Music Festival was forced to cancel its 2020 event at its wilderness location outside Salmo due to the novel coronavirus — COVID-19.
Now the popular festival has hit the pause button on its 2020 virtual event, set for July 23-25 after several women recently came forward on social media to make sexual assault allegations against one of its artists.
“After careful consideration, Shambhala Music Festival has removed Billy Kenny from the Shambhala at Home Digital Street Event,” the Shambhala Music Festival Twitter feed said on July 13.
“We take any allegations of assault, whether it be physical, verbal or sexual, very seriously and we do not condone that behaviour in any way,” the Twitter feed went on to say.
Kenny responded to the accusations, by releasing a statement July 15 on that appeared on a entertainment website.
Shambhala Electronic Music Festival has been a staple in the West Kootenay during the summer since 1998 when a gathering of 500 people flocked to the Salmo River on a sunny Labour Day weekend to party to local art and music.
The event has grown to one of the most popular electronic music festivals in the world, attracting well-known DJs and artists featuring the most eclectic fans in the world.
By 2010, the event would attract up to 15,000 fans and artists to enjoy some of the best electronic music and vibe.
Last Monday, Shambhala removed Kenny from its virtual festival lineup.
However, since new allegations have come forward, organizers have decided to postpone the virtual festival, set to begin Thursday and issuing an apology Saturday.
“In light of the allegations against past and present artists on our performance roster, we recognize that forms of sexual violence exist in our society and we take accountability for the role festivals play in this,” the Twitter statement read.
“We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to all those affected and thank those who displayed courage to speak out.”
Shambhala said organizers are working to determine the best course of action to take and are looking for ways to use this as an opportunity to improve how the festival is operated.
“We acknowledge that we can do better to ensure that our team, guests and artist align with our values and we commit to using the lessons learned to reduce the potential for future harm,” the Twitter feed added.
It remains unclear if organizers will try to re-work or reschedule the upcoming virtual event to a later date.
Below, is the updated statement from the Shambhala Twitter feed regarding harm reduction and Shambhala at Home.